precious few

(redirected from precious-few)

precious few

adjective Not much; scant. (Used solely with plural countable nouns; "precious little" is used with uncountable nouns.) He's had precious few job offers since he got out of college. We've had precious few details about the deal, so rumors are flying around the office at the moment.
See also: few, precious

precious few

 and precious little
very few; very little. (Few for people or things that can be counted, and little for amounts.) We get precious few tourists here in the winter. There's precious little food in the house and there is no money.
See also: few, precious

precious few

Also, precious little. Very few, very little, as in There are precious few leaves left on the trees, or We have precious little fuel left. In these idioms precious serves as an intensive, a colloquial usage dating from the first half of the 1800s.
See also: few, precious

precious ˈfew/ˈlittle

(informal) very few/little: There are precious few places round here where you can get good Indian food.
See also: few, little, precious

precious few

Hardly any. The use of precious for “very” or “extremely” dates from the first half of the nineteenth century, and so does its pairing with “few.” For some reason it is never paired with any other adjective; one never hears of “precious many.” A. Gray used it in a letter of 1839, “While on the Continent I have received precious few letters,” and Neville Chamberlain used it in a speech to the House of Commons (August 26, 1886): “Precious few of them have declared in favour of the bill.”
See also: few, precious